Recommendations

★ ★ ★Exceptional  ★ ★Excellent ★Very Good

Availability information is based on distributor records. Wines might not be in stock at every listed store and might be sold at additional stores. Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.

Champagne is expensive, typically costing from $30 a bottle on up. The best values tend to kick in around the $40-to-$50 range. That’s another reason to treat champagnes like fine wine and savor them out of a decent glass. Here are a few to brighten your holiday season. All are Great Values.

— D.M.

Heidsieck & Co. Monopole Gold Top Brut 2005

★ ★ ★

Champagne, France, $50

A “great value” for $50? Absolutely, when you’re talking vintage champagne at this quality. The wine is generous and friendly, as welcoming as a roaring fire in winter. Alcohol by volume: 12 percent.

M Touton: Available in the District at Capitol Hill Wine and Spirits, Central Liquors, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Rodman’s, Wide World of Wines. Available in Maryland at Bethesda Co-Op in Cabin John, Downtown Crown Wine and Beer in Gaithersburg, Georgetown Square Wine and Beer, Montgomery Gourmet Beer & Wine in Bethesda, Montgomery Plaza Liquors in Catonsville, Old Farm Liquors in Frederick, Rodman’s (White Flint), Rollins Beer-Wine-Deli in Rockville, Silesia Liquors in Fort Washington.

Gonet-Medeville Blanc de Noirs Premier Cru Brut

★ ★ ★

Champagne, France, $52

Another delicious champagne, racy with red currant and mineral flavors. Blanc de Noirs means a white wine from black (red) grapes. This wine is 100 percent pinot noir from chalky soils, and is precisely focused and energetic. It wants you to sit up and take notice. ABV: 12.5 percent.

Elite: Available in the District at Wagshal’s Deli; on the list at Le Diplomate, Minibar, Proof. Available in Maryland at Bin 201 Wine Sellers in Annapolis, the Bottle Shop in Potomac, Enchanted Forest Wine & Spirits in Ellicott City, Finewine.com in Gaithersburg; on the list at Bistro Provence and Mussel Bar in Bethesda, Petit Louis Bistro in Columbia. Available in Virginia at Grateful Red Wine & Gift Shop in Arlington, the Wine Cabinet in Reston; on the list at River Bend Bistro & Wine Bar in the Alexandria area, Willow in Arlington.

Lancelot-Goussard Claude Lancelot Blanc de Blancs Brut

★ ★ ★

Champagne, France, $42

“Blanc de blancs” means “white from whites” and indicates a champagne made entirely from chardonnay. This one is expansive in mouth feel and rich with tree-fruit flavors and nice, toasty character. ABV: 12 percent.

Oslo Enterprise: Available in the District at Chat’s Liquors, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor, Harry’s Reserve Fine Wine & Spirits, Rodman’s, Smuckers Farms of Lancaster County, U Street Wine & Beer; on the list at Bin 1301, Le Chat Noir. Available in Maryland at Annebeth’s in Annapolis; Chesapeake Wine Co., Spirits of Mt. Vernon, Wells Discount Liquors, Wine Source and Wine Works in Baltimore; Wine Bin in Ellicott City, Wishing Well Liquors in Easton. On the list at 13.5% Wine Bar and Marie Louise Bistro in Baltimore.

Charles Orban Carte Noire Brut

★ ★ 1 / 2

Champagne, France, $42

This blends the three champagne grapes — pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay — in equal proportions, so it was an appropriate wine for my glass tasting experiment. This is classic champagne, mineral and fruity with great focus. ABV: 12 percent.

Elite: Available in the District at Whole Foods Market (P Street); on the list at 701, Bistro La Bonne, Bourbon Steak, Macon Bistro & Larder, Oval Room, Petits Plats, Yummi Crawfish. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s, Cork 57 Beer and Wine, Cork & Fork and Geste Wine in Bethesda; Chesapeake Wine Co. and Wine Underground in Baltimore. On the list at Bistro Provence in Bethesda. Available in Virginia at Norm’s Beer & Wine and Vienna Vintner in Vienna, Oby Lee Winery in Arlington, Vino Market in Midlothian, Whole Foods Market (Alexandria, Arlington, Tysons Corner); on the list at Columbia Firehouse, Del Ray Cafe and La Bergerie in Alexandria; La Cote D’Or Cafe in Arlington; L’Auberge Chez François in Great Falls; L’Auberge Provençale in White Post; Wine Kitchen in Purcellville.

Pommery Brut Royal

★ ★ 1 / 2

Champagne, France, $42

Pommery is one of the classic champagne houses. Its wines display an elegance and delicacy that appeal to me. If there’s such a thing as liquid gossamer, it probably resides in the chalk cellars of Pommery. ABV: 12 percent.

M Touton in the District and Maryland; Virginia Imports in Virginia: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Best in Liquors, Capitol Hill Wine and Spirits, Central Liquors, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Harry’s Reserve Fine Wine & Spirits, Magruder’s, Morris Miller Wine & Liquor, Pan-Mar Liquor, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, S&R Liquors, Whole Foods Market (various locations). Available in Maryland at Beer, Wine & Co. and Georgetown Square Wine and Beer in Bethesda; the Bottle Shop in Potomac; Jason’s Wine & Spirits and Pine Orchard Wine in Ellicott City; Old Farm Liquors in Frederick; Rodman’s in White Flint; Rollins Beer-Wine-Deli in Rockville; Silesia Liquors in Fort Washington; Swirl in Timonium. Available in Virginia at Dominion Wine & Beer in Falls Church, Oakton Wine Shop, Wine Styles (Montclair), Wine Cabinet in Reston; on the list at Goodstone Inn in Middleburg, the Inn at Little Washington.

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